National Post (Latest Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - Dirk Meiss­ner

• A mi­gra­tion of toads de­scribed as a croak­ing, mov­ing car­pet and one of the world’s en­vi­ron­men­tal won­ders is di­vid­ing a south­east­ern Bri­tish Columbia vil­lage over forestry jobs and the pro­tec­tion of tiny am­phib­ians.

The western toad mi­gra­tion near the vil­lage of Nakusp at­tracts tourists ev­ery sum­mer to the Toad Fes­ti­val at Sum­mit Lake, where peo­ple fill buck­ets with the toads and carry them safely across High­way 6 to for­est habi­tat.

More t han a mil­lion brown toads mi­grate at once, mov­ing en masse from the lake across the high­way to forested habi­tat where they live for four or five years be­fore re­turn­ing to the lake to breed.

The B. C. govern­ment spent al­most $ 200,000 to build a toad tun­nel un­der­neath the high­way, which is used by the toads, but many take the over­land route and risk death on the high­way.

“Hun­dreds of peo­ple go out and help them across the road,” said Koote­nay West New Demo­crat MLA Ka­trine Con­roy, who rep­re­sents Nakusp res­i­dents. “It looks like a car­pet of toads go­ing across the road, es­pe­cially th­ese lit­tle ba­bies try­ing to get across the road.”

Con­roy said the vil­lage of about 1,600 peo­ple is con­flicted be­tween pro­tect­ing the jobs as­so­ci­ated with Nakusp’s com­mu­nity-run for­est com­pany and the pos­si­ble threat log­ging poses to the am­phib­ians.

“The com­mu­nity for­est li­cence is an eco­nomic driver in a small com­mu­nity like Nakusp, but it’s also a con­cern for the com­mu­nity be­cause the toads are an en­dan­gered species,” she said. “They put a large amount of en­ergy into en­sur­ing those lit­tle guys get across the road.”

Nakusp or­ganic veg­etable grower Janet Spicer said many of her cus­tomers are for­est com­pa­nies, but she’s push­ing to have the toad mi­gra­tion route pro­tected from log­ging.

“This is an ex­tremely spe­cial site, hold­ing an ex­tremely frag­ile an­i­mal,” she said. “It is unique in Canada, prob­a­bly North Amer­ica and per­haps the world.”

Wilder­ness Com­mit­tee spokes­woman Gwen Bar­lee said the B. C. govern­ment is play­ing Rus­sian roulette with the sur­vival of the toads by per­mit­ting log­ging and road build­ing.

For­est Min­is­ter Steve Thom­son said he’s con­fi­dent the mi­gra­tion route will be pro­tected.

“In my per­spec­tive, the com­mu­nity for­est is tak­ing all the steps to deal with the pres­ence of the toad and ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­ment of their ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

More than a mil­lion toads mi­grate at once ev­ery sum­mer at Sum­mit Lake, B.C.


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